Staff member


Mário Hüttener Queiroz

Postdoctoral Researcher
RA_Microbial Biotechnology and Host-Pathogen Interaction
mhuttener@ibecbarcelona.eu
+34 934 020 212
Staff member publications

Prieto, A., Urcola, I., Blanco, J., Dahbi, G., Muniesa, M., Quiros, P., Falgenhauer, L., Chakraborty, T., Hüttener, M., Juarez, A., (2016). Tracking bacterial virulence: Global modulators as indicators Scientific Reports 6, 25973

The genomes of Gram-negative bacteria encode paralogues and/or orthologues of global modulators. The nucleoid-associated H-NS and Hha proteins are an example: several enterobacteria such as Escherichia coli or Salmonella harbor H-NS, Hha and their corresponding paralogues, StpA and YdgT proteins, respectively. Remarkably, the genome of the pathogenic enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 encodes, in addition to the hha and ydgT genes, two additional hha paralogues, hha2 and hha3. We show in this report that there exists a strong correlation between the presence of these paralogues and the virulence phenotype of several E. coli strains. hha2 and hha3 predominate in some groups of intestinal pathogenic E. coli strains (enteroaggregative and Shiga toxin-producing isolates), as well as in the widely distributed extraintestinal ST131 isolates. Because of the relationship between the presence of hha2/hha3 and some virulence factors, we have been able to provide evidence for Hha2/Hha3 modulating the expression of the antigen 43 pathogenic determinants. We show that tracking global modulators or their paralogues/orthologues can be a new strategy to identify bacterial pathogenic clones and propose PCR amplification of hha2 and hha3 as a virulence indicator in environmental and clinical E. coli isolates.


Tassinari, E., Aznar, S., Urcola, I., Prieto, A., Hüttener, M., Juárez, A., (2016). The incC sequence is required for R27 plasmid stability Frontiers in Microbiology 7, (6), Article 629

IncHI plasmids account for multiple antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella and other enterobacterial genera. These plasmids are generally very stable in their bacterial hosts. R27 is the archetype of IncHI1 plasmids. A high percentage of the R27-encoded open reading frames (ORFs) (66.7%) do not show similarity to any known ORFs. We performed a deletion analysis of all non-essential R27 DNA sequences to search for hitherto non-identified plasmid functions that might be required for plasmid stability. We report the identification of a short DNA sequence (incC) that is essential for R27 stability. That region contains several repeats (incC repeats), belongs to one of the three-plasmid replicons (R27 FIA-like) and is targeted by the R27 E protein. Deletion of the incC sequence drastically reduces R27 stability both in Escherichia coli and in Salmonella, the effect being more pronounced in this latter species. Interfering with incC-E protein interaction must lead to a reduced IncHI1 plasmid stability, and may represent a new approach to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance, E protein, IncC, IncHI1 plasmids, Plasmid R27, Plasmid stability


Van Der Hofstadt, M., Hüttener, M., Juárez, A., Gomila, G., (2015). Nanoscale imaging of the growth and division of bacterial cells on planar substrates with the atomic force microscope Ultramicroscopy 154, 29-36

Abstract With the use of the atomic force microscope (AFM), the Nanomicrobiology field has advanced drastically. Due to the complexity of imaging living bacterial processes in their natural growing environments, improvements have come to a standstill. Here we show the in situ nanoscale imaging of the growth and division of single bacterial cells on planar substrates with the atomic force microscope. To achieve this, we minimized the lateral shear forces responsible for the detachment of weakly adsorbed bacteria on planar substrates with the use of the so called dynamic jumping mode with very soft cantilever probes. With this approach, gentle imaging conditions can be maintained for long periods of time, enabling the continuous imaging of the bacterial cell growth and division, even on planar substrates. Present results offer the possibility to observe living processes of untrapped bacteria weakly attached to planar substrates.

Keywords: Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), Living cell imaging, Bacteria division, Gelatine immobilization, Dynamic jumping mode


Dietrich, M., Pedró, L., García, J., Pons, M., Hüttener, M., Paytubi, S., Madrid, C., Juárez, A., (2014). Evidence for moonlighting functions of the Journal of Bacteriology 196, (5), 1102-1112

The holE gene is an enterobacterial ORFan gene (open reading frame [ORF] with no detectable homology to other ORFs in a database). It encodes the θ subunit of the DNA polymerase III core complex. The precise function of the θ subunit within this complex is not well established, and loss of holE does not result in a noticeable phenotype. Paralogs of holE are also present on many conjugative plasmids and on phage P1 (hot gene). In this study, we provide evidence indicating that θ (HolE) exhibits structural and functional similarities to a family of nucleoid-associated regulatory proteins, the Hha/YdgT-like proteins that are also encoded by enterobacterial ORFan genes. Microarray studies comparing the transcriptional profiles of Escherichia coli holE, hha, and ydgT mutants revealed highly similar expression patterns for strains harboring holE and ydgT alleles. Among the genes differentially regulated in both mutants were genes of the tryptophanase (tna) operon. The tna operon consists of a transcribed leader region, tnaL, and two structural genes, tnaA and tnaB. Further experiments with transcriptional lacZ fusions (tnaL::lacZ and tnaA::lacZ) indicate that HolE and YdgT downregulate expression of the tna operon by possibly increasing the level of Rho-dependent transcription termination at the tna operon's leader region. Thus, for the first time, a regulatory function can be attributed to HolE, in addition to its role as structural component of the DNA polymerase III complex.


Hüttener, M., Dietrich, M., Paytubi, S., Juárez, A., (2014). HilA-like regulators in Escherichia coli pathotypes: the YgeH protein from the enteroaggregative strain 042 BMC Microbiology 14, (268), 1-10

Background The HilA protein is the master regulator of the Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI1). EilA and YgeH proteins show a moderate similarity to HilA and are encoded in pathogenicity islands from several E. coli strains, both pathogenic and non-pathogenic. In the present work we characterize the YgeH protein from the enteroaggregative E. coli strain 042 (locus tag EC042_3050). Results We show that both E. coli 042 YgeH and EilA proteins are able to functionally replace HilA in Salmonella. Interestingly, this is not the rule for all YgeH proteins: the YgeH protein from the enterohaemorragic E. coli strain O157 appears to be non-functional. ygeH expression is not influenced by growth osmolarity or temperature, and moderately increases in cells entering the stationary phase. H-NS represses ygeH expression under all growth conditions tested, and binds with specificity to the ygeH promoter region. As expected, expression of ETT2 (Escherichia coli type 3 secretion system 2) genes requires YgeH: ETT2 operons are downregulated in a ygeH mutant. Accordingly, since H-NS represses ygeH expression, ETT2 expression is significantly increased in an hns mutant. Conclusion E. coli 042 YgeH protein is functional and able to replace HilA in Salmonella. ETT2 gene expression requires YgeH activity which, in turn, is subjected to H-NS silencing.

Keywords: HilA, YgeH, E. coli 042, H-NS


Jaramillo, M. C., Martínez-Duarte, R., Hüttener, M., Renaud, P., Torrents, E., Juárez, A., (2013). Increasing PCR sensitivity by removal of polymerase inhibitors in environmental samples by using dielectrophoresis Biosensors and Bioelectronics 43, (1), 297-303

Dielectrophoresis (DEP) is a powerful tool to manipulate cells and molecules in microfluidic chips. However, few practical applications using DEP exist. An immediate practical application of a carbon-electrode DEP system, in removing PCR inhibitors from a sample, is reported in this work. We use a high throughput carbon-electrode DEP system to trap yeast cells from a natural sample (fermented grape must) and then in situ remove contaminants that interfere with PCR analysis. Retrieval of this enriched and purified yeast population from the DEP system then allows for a significant increase of sensitivity during PCR analysis. Furthermore, the fact that DEP can discriminate between viable and non-viable cells minimizes the number of false positives commonly obtained when using PCR alone. Experimental results provide clear evidence that the carbon-electrode DEP-based sample preparation step can readily and effectively clean environmental samples from natural contaminants and improve PCR sensitivity.


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